Win for United Bid North America: 2026 World Cup will be hosted by the USA, Mexico, and Canada

World Cup 2026 United Bid
Pro Shots / SIPA USA

The 2026 World Cup has been awarded to USA, Mexico, and Canada: the FIFA World Cup football is coming to North America. At the 68th FIFA Congress, Wednesday 13 June 2018 in Russia, the member associations voted for the North American United Bid. The United Bid will bring an extended 48-team tournament, a first in world’s soccer history. It is also the first time that three nations will co-host the FIFA World Cup. Wednesday, a number of 134 FIFA members voted for the joint bid of the United States of America, Mexico and Canada. Their competitor, Morocco, received 65 votes for their World Cup bid. The 23rd edition of the FIFA World Cup will begin and end in the summer of 2026. The dates, times and schedule of the matches will be released at a later date.

The last time the World Cup was organized in North America, was in 1994 when the USA solely hosted this major soccer final tournament. Mexico has the same valuable experience, even twice, in the years 1970 en 1986. One advantage of the United Bid compared to the Moroccan bid, is the current operating and modern condition of all North America candidate stadiums, with an average capacity greater than 68,000. In addition, FIFA’s essential requirement regarding legacy of the stadiums, can allready at this stage be ‘guaranteed’ by the joint bid. Morover, the North American submission has given the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) given a prospect of generating over $11 billion in profits.

The 48-team tournament format, the largest-ever World Cup Soccer, will have 80 matches in total, with the USA having 60 games, and both Canada and Mexico 10. The United Bid provides 23 candidate host cities and venues of which sixteen city’s and stadiums will be elected to become an eventual host in the summer of 2026. A total of seventeen of the current Candidate Host Cities are located in the US, whilst both Canada and Mexico have three locations. In 2020, the organizing committee will, out of the sixteen current US candidate venues, elect ten final ones. The 2026 FIFA World Cup final in North America will take place in New York/New Jersey at the MetLife Stadium. The opening match will be held in Los Angeles (Rose Bowl) or in Mexico City (Azteca Stadium).

These are the (candidate) host cities and stadiums of the USA: Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium), Baltimore (M&T Bank Stadium), Boston (Gillette Stadium), Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium), Dallas (AT&T Stadium), Denver (Mile High Stadium), Houston (NRG Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium), Los Angeles (Rose Bowl), Miami (Hard Rock Stadium), Nashville (Nissan Stadium), New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium), Orlando (Camping World Stadium), Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field), San Francisco Bay Area (Levi’s Stadium), Seattle (CenturyLink Field), and Washington, DC (FedEx Field).

These host cities and stadiums have been selected in Canada: Edmonton (Commonwealth Stadium), Montréal (Olympic Stadium), and Toronto (BMO Field).

These are the host cities and stadiums in Mexico: Guadalajara (Estadio Akron), Mexico City (Azteca Stadium), and Monterrey (BBVA Bancomer Stadium)

The first round, the group stage, consists of sixteen groups of three countries. The top two teams in each group will progress; 16 teams will be eliminated after just two matches. The knockout stage starts with the round of 32. The winning United Bid has suggested to appoint seven group matches, two matches in the round of 32, and one match in the round of 16 to both Canada and Mexico. The remaining 34 group matches, 12 round of 32, 6 round of 16, 4 quarterfinals, the semifinals, third-place playoff, and the final match will, according to the 2026 Bid’s proposal, be played in the US.

Gianni Infantino, FIFA’s President, has made an effort for the expansion to 48 teams. One advantage is the increased number of qualifying tickets available to countries of every FIFA confederation. Also, it makes sure that FIFA Zone Oceania will have at least one representative.

These are the FIFA Confederations and their number of World Cup tickets that can be earned:

UEFA (Europe) | 16
CAF (Africa) | 9 (possible 10)
AFC (Asia) | 8 (possible 9)
CONCACAF (North America, Central America, and the Caribbean) | 6 (possible 7 or 8)
CONMEBOL (South America) | 6 (possible 7)
OFC (Oceania) | 1 (possible 2)

The other two countries qualify themselves by playing a mini-tournament as the final part of the qualification stage. Six countries are allowed to enter: from zone CONCACAF (2), from CAF (1), from AFC (1), from CONMEBOL (1), and OFC (1). The qualifying stage will start in 2023 and end in 2025.